Barred Owl Retreat, Leicester, Massachusetts | November 2-5, 2018

barred owl rear

The Colrain Manuscript Intensive is a small, select, highly focused, 3-day conference designed for the evaluation and discussion of book-length manuscripts by editors and publishers. The intensive is open only to those who have attended a previous Colrain conference and/or those whose manuscript is close to publication (semi-finalist, finalist or publisher feedback), and/or those with previous book publication.

The intensive features in-depth pre-conference work and candid, realistic evaluation and feedback from decision-makers. In preparation, particpants will work on pre-conference assignments and then in the workshop to review, arrange, and winnow their collections based on the pre-conference work.. In addition to the manuscript preparation workshop and editor consultation, there will be editorial Q&A, and after-conference strategy session. The Intensive also includes a pre-conference manuscript reading and separate consultation with Joan Houlihan.

Where and When: The conference will be held from Friday, November 2 through Monday, November 5, at the beautiful Barred Owl Retreat, a 15-room, 1920’s colonial home located just outside the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, in the town of Leicester. The retreat’s lovingly landscaped acreage hosts an orchard, a brook, two ponds and an abundance of wildlife including herons, beavers, otters, deer, and of course, barred owls. The property abuts a secluded 114-acre nature preserve so on the grounds one might feel away from it all, yet Barred Owl Retreat is just four miles from downtown Worcester.


Plan to arrive on Friday, November 2, between 4 and 6 pm. Dinner is at 7 pm, after which introductions and preparation for the next day take place.  The conference ends on Monday, November 5, at 11 am.


Here, you will work with poet-editor-educators Joan Houlihan and Martha Rhodes.

_dsc3823medCROPJoan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Shadow-feast (Four Way Books). Her poetry has been anthologized in The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press) and The Book of Irish-American Poetry-Eighteenth Century to Present (University of Notre Dame Press). She is a contributing critic for the Contemporary Poetry Review, associate editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and author of a series of essays on contemporary American poetry archived online at She has taught at Columbia University, Smith College and Emerson College and she currently teaches in the Lesley University Low-Residency MFA Program and as Professor of Practice at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan is founder and director of the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.


marthaMartha Rhodes is the director of Four Way Books, a literary press in New York City and author of five poetry collections, most recently The Thin Line (University of Pittsburgh Press). Her other collections are: The Beds (Autumn House Press), Mother Quiet (Zoo Press, 2004), Perfect Disappearance (winner of The Green Rose Prize, New Issues, 2000), and At the Gate (Provincetown Arts, 1995). She has published widely in magazines and journals including Agni, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and TriQuarterly, and her work has appeared in such anthologies as Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women, The New American Poets, Last Call, and many others. Martha has taught at Emerson College, New School University, UC at Irvine, and currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence and the Warren Wilson MFA Program. She is core faculty at the Colrain Conferences.

SalernoChristopher Salerno, editor of Saturnalia Books, is an Associate Professor at William Paterson University and the author of four books of poems. His most recent collection is “Sun & Urn,” selected by Thomas Lux for the 2017 Georgia Poetry Prize. Previous books include “ATM,” selected by D.A. Powell for the 2014 Georgetown Review Poetry Prize, and “Minimum Heroic,” selected for the 2010 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize. His first book, “Whirligig,” appeared in 2006. He is also the author of the chapbooks “Aorta” and “Automatic Teller,” the latter of which won the 2013 Laurel Review Midwest Chapbook Prize.

A New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellow and recipient of Prairie Schooner’s Glenna Luschei Award, Salerno’s poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, PEN America, Boston Review, New England Review, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares,
Conduit, Colorado Review, Los Angeles Review, Fence, Denver Quarterly, Mississippi Review, 
Verse Daily, and regularly in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series. He is currently an Associate Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey where he also teaches in their MFA Program for Creative and Professional Writing. He can be found online at

How to Apply

Before you apply, please visit our Conference Criteria page to make certain this conference is right for you. Once you understand the nature and goals of the conference, please submit an application.

Conference Fee

Following successful application, the registration fee is $1,675.00. This includes:


Nearby accommodations are available starting at $50 per night.  You will need to contact them and make arrangements. Some suggestions below:

The Heartwell House.  2.4 miles from Barred Owl

A big, gorgeous house also used for yoga and meditation retreats. 6 rooms available, some double. Very reasonable and highest rating through airbnb.

The Red Maple Inn in Spencer. 7 miles from Barred Owl.

This is a lovely inn with indoor and outdoor sitting areas. It is pricey but they have two rooms that could be shared to cut down on the cost. One is the suite which has two separate bedrooms, one with twin beds one with a queen and they share a bath in between. They also have The Cottage room that is attached to the house that has two somewhat separate sleeping areas and a kitchen. Mention that you are attending the Barred Owl Writer’s retreat and they will take 10% off. A large breakfast at the time you request is included (though you will also have a continental breakfast served at the Barred Owl).

Courtyard Marriott: Downtown Worcester 4-5 miles from Barred Owl. Near art museum and dining. Ask for the Clark University rate or the AAA discount. Rooms $115-$129.00. Phone: 508-363-0300

Spenser Country Inn. 5.5 miles from Barred Owl. They have three rooms in the main Inn for $65.00/night. The yellow room is large with 2 single beds and could easily be shared.

NOTE: They also have 6 rooms in an adjacent building for $55.00 night, but the quality is lesser. We recommend asking for rooms in the main Inn for $65.00/night.

How to Get Here

Barred Owl is located at 88 Marshall Street, Leicester, MA, only 20 minutes from downtown Worcester and 15 minutes from the Worcester Regional Airport (Flights at the Worcester Airport are limited. Logan Airport in Boston is 40 minutes away if necessary for your flight plans).

Amtrak and buses arrive in Worcester where you can easily take a taxi to the retreat.

Contact Info:

Phone: 978.897.0054

Refund Policy: Refund up to 4 weeks prior, less 15% processing fee. Colrain Conferences reserves the right to cancel this conference without penalty, liability limited to a full refund of registration fees.